Oakley MOD5 Helmet
Construction: Hybrid in-mold
Weight: 1 lb. 4 oz.
Ventilation: Adjustable (8 vents)
What we like: Sleek looks, quality construction, and innovative brim design.
What we don’t: Not the most comfort or the best ventilator (but it’s not far off).
See the Oakley MOD5 Helmet
Oakley might be best known for their sunglasses and snow goggles, but their growing ski and snowboard helmet line is nothing to scoff at. The premium MOD5 is case in point: this helmet is well-built, comfortable, and features a unique swappable brim design that works with a wide range of goggles. Those who want maximum ventilation will likely be a little disappointed, but the MOD5 nevertheless is an impressively well-rounded and good-looking lid. Below we break down our experience with the Oakley MOD5. To see how it stacks up to the competition, see our article on the best ski helmets.
Table of Contents
- Build Quality and Durability
- Fit and Sizing
- What We Like/What We Don't
- Comparison Table
- The Competition
Sitting at the top of their snow helmet lineup, the Oakley MOD5 mostly delivers in the comfort department. The sleek-looking lid fits well overall without any noticeable pressure points, and once tensioned via the back Boa dial (more on this below), it stays solidly in place. Further, the chin strap is nicely padded with fleece to reduce any rubbing or chafing, and it features a magnetic buckle that’s almost effortless to operate—simply place one end of the strap near the other, and the magnets take care of the rest. Throughout testing so far, the system has been very effective, and I’ve had no issues with the strap coming undone while skiing or during a crash. It’s also worth noting that the MOD5’s liner and ear pads can be removed, which is a nice touch for those who like to wear a hat under their helmet.
However, there are a couple of areas where the MOD5 falls slightly short of the competition. First and foremost is the interior liner, which is comfortable but not as well-cushioned as I would like. For comparison, our top-rated ski helmet this season, the Smith Vantage MIPS, is noticeably plusher and more well-padded throughout. Further, the MOD5’s ear pads are cupped, which is designed to increase comfort and reduce pressure but makes it difficult to wear headphones. That said, these are very small complaints for an otherwise great all-around build, and the Oakley is undoubtedly towards the top of the pack when it comes to comfort on the slopes.
In practice, the MOD5’s adjustable ventilation system worked reasonably well, but it’s not our favorite design. In total, the helmet features eight vents (toggled via a slider at the rear) which draw air up through your goggles and out the top. By comparison, the Smith Vantage and Quantum boast a whopping 21 and 22 vents respectively, which are much more adept at dumping heat on high-output or mild-weather adventures. I’ve worn the MOD5 while yo-yoing my local backcountry on colder days down to around 20 degrees Fahrenheit and was able to stay comfortable. However, in temperatures above freezing, I quickly overheated with the vents wide open. I typically don’t wear my helmet while ascending, but if you do, I would recommend removing the ear pads to create more room for air to flow (or opting for a more well-ventilated design like the aforementioned Vantage).
One upside to the Oakley MOD5’s average ventilation system is that the helmet traps in warmth quite well. With the vents in the closed position, the helmet has kept my head well-insulated with no drafts or cold spots, even on especially gusty days. And when I’ve been caught in rain or wet snow, the closed vents worked well at preventing moisture from entering the helmet. Further, the detachable ear pads are nicely cushioned, which helps with comfort and provides an extra boost in insulation. And finally, the interior removable liner sits below the rear of the helmet to hold the ratcheting system in place, which adds a bit of warmth around the back of the neck.
Modular Brim System (MBS)
Easily the most innovative part of the MOD5 is its Modular Brim System (MBS), which includes two interchangeable brims (small and large). This allows for fairly seamless helmet and goggle integration, regardless of goggle brand or size. To be sure, the system does favor Oakley models above others, but the option to swap out the brim nevertheless is helpful for maximizing overall fit. My only complaint is that swapping the brims requires a screwdriver, meaning it’s not easily accomplished on the fly. But if you’ve struggled in the past to eliminate the gap between the top of your ski goggles and your helmet (also known as the gaper gap), the MOD5 could be a viable solution.
Boa Tensioning System
Like many other premium ski helmets, the Oakley MOD5 features a Boa adjustment system at the back for dialing in fit. Far and away, Boa systems are the easiest to use and most consistent performers we’ve experienced on the market. To adjust, simply turn the dial at the back in either direction—turning to the left loosens the helmet and turning to the right tightens it. When you’ve got a snug fit, the dial automatically locks in place to prevent slippage. Overall, we’ve found Boa systems to be very reliable and easy to operate (even with gloves on). Not to mention, any Boa-equipped piece of gear—from helmets to snowshoes, ski boots, and more—comes with a lifetime warranty on the adjustment system from Boa themselves.
At 1 pound 4 ounces, the Oakley MOD5 falls a bit on the heavier end of the ski helmet spectrum, but it’s still perfectly reasonable for resort and occasional backcountry use. Other premium models like the Smith Vantage MIPS (1 lb. 2 oz.), Giro Range MIPS (1 lb. 3 oz.), and POC Obex SPIN (1 lb. 0.5 oz.) undercut the MOD5 slightly, and you can go much lighter with a dedicated backcountry-focused model like the Salomon MTN Lab (13.3 oz.). However, ultralight helmets like the Salomon sacrifice features, durability, and comfort to shave weight. For those who ski mostly on-piste, the MOD5 isn’t too hefty or cumbersome, and the added warmth and features are worth the tradeoff for many.
As we’ve come to expect from Oakley, the MOD5 is built to last. The helmet feels solid in hand, with a hybrid construction (ABS plastic along the top front and lighter in-mold around back) that effectively balances durability and weight savings. After a full season of testing, the helmet is holding up extremely well with only minor scuffs—there are no dents, cracks, or concerning wear. Additionally, all of the interior Velcro used to secure the comfort liner is intact and sticking well. I also appreciate the easy-to-use goggle-retention clip: just slide your goggle strap under the plastic clip and you’ve got a secure connection. I prefer this system over the elastic and hook combination on the Smith Vantage, which proved a little hard to get used to. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the MOD5 is light on the head without feeling fragile. Added up, this is one hardwearing and well-built lid.
I typically wear a large in ski helmets, and the Oakley MOD5 fits true to size. For reference, a size large in the MOD5 is designated as a 59- to 63-centimeter head circumference, and Oakley also offers the helmet in medium (55 to 59cm) and small (51 to 55cm) versions. With the large brim in place, the helmet works seamlessly with my Oakley Airbrake XL goggles—the top of the goggles sits flush against the helmet, and the sides are also gap-free. I’d go so far as to say this is the best fit between my helmet and goggles that I’ve ever had. To tighten or loosen the helmet, the Boa system at the back is easy to use (even with gloves on) and low-profile, and I’ve found that it snugs down evenly without any noticeable pressure points.
MIPS Version of the Oakley MOD5
We tested the standard MOD5 helmet here, which has a $200 MSRP. Oakley also makes the MOD5 with a MIPS liner for $40 more. MIPS, which stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System, is designed to reduce potential damage to the brain in angled impacts by moving independently from the outer shell. In practice, we’ve found that MIPS liners have essentially no impact on the comfort or profile of a helmet, although some MIPS models do fit slightly smaller than their non-MIPS-equipped counterparts. In the end, as with all other helmets, it’s best to try on the MOD5 before buying to ensure a good all-around fit.
- Typical Oakley quality: the MOD5 fits well, looks good, and is built to last.
- Two interchangeable brims make the MOD5 compatible with a wide range of goggle brands and sizes.
- Removable liner and ear pads are a nice touch for those who like to wear a hat under their helmet.
What We Don’t
- The MOD5 isn’t a great ventilator in mild conditions or when you’re working hard.
- Interior liner is comfortable but is a little lacking in cushioning (by comparison, the Smith Vantage is plusher).
- Cutout ear pads make it tough to wear headphones.
|Oakley MOD5||$200||Hybrid in-mold||1 lb. 4 oz.||Adjustable (8 vents)||No (available)|
|Smith Vantage MIPS||$260||Hybrid in-mold||1 lb. 2 oz.||Adjustable (21 vents)||Yes|
|GIRO Range MIPS||$260||Hybrid in-mold||1 lb. 3 oz.||Adjustable (13 vents)||Yes|
|POC Obex SPIN||$200||In-mold w/ABS||1 lb. 0.5 oz.||Adjustable (11 vents)||Yes (SPIN)|
|Oakley MOD3||$160||In-mold||Unavail.||Fixed (6 vents)||No (available)|
Oakley’s MOD5 helmet stands out for its accommodating fit, removable brim design, and hybrid construction that nicely balances durability and weight savings. However, Smith’s Vantage is our favorite all-around model this year. Why do we give Smith the edge? Stacked up to the MOD5, the Vantage is lighter at 1 pound 2 ounces, more well-cushioned throughout, and doesn’t run as hot with 21 well-placed vents (a considerable 13 more than the Oakley). The only major downside is cost: at $260 for the MIPS version, the Smith is one of the most expensive ski helmets on the market. It’s a close call between the Oakley and Smith for frontside use, but if you plan to do any backcountry exploration, the pricier and more ventilated Vantage is the clear winner.
Even more similar in design is Giro’s Range MIPS. Like the MOD5, the Range features a hybrid in-mold construction, a magnetic chin strap, and a sleek shape. Where they differ is in the adjustment system, with the Giro’s unique two-piece shell expanding and contracting as you move the rear dial. This does provide a close and low-profile fit, although we’re not sold that it’s a must-have feature. Ventilation is pretty close between the two, but the Oakley wins out in comfort due to its cushier ear pads. In the end, the comfort factor is what pushes the Oakley slightly ahead for us.
Another solidly built lid to consider is POC’s Obex SPIN. Compared to the MOD5, the POC costs the same at $200 and is a little plusher inside. Unlike the Oakley, the Obex uses POC’s proprietary SPIN technology, which is their version of a MIPS liner. This safety feature makes the Obex a better value as the MIPS version of the MOD5 runs you $240. That said, we’ve found the POC isn’t as low-profile as the MOD5, and as a result feels a bit bulkier and heavier than its 1-pound 0.5-ounce weight suggests. Additionally, only the top three vents are adjustable, which means the helmet can let in more cold air on frigid days. For the same price, we prefer the Oakley for its slightly more well-executed design.
A final option comes from within Oakley’s own “MOD” lineup: the MOD3 Helmet. Compared to the premium MOD5, the “3” lacks an ABS outer shell, instead opting for a standard in-mold build. This makes it lighter but less durable and more susceptible to damage from regular wear like clipping tree branches or getting tossed on the ground. Further, the mid-range model foregoes adjustable ventilation for fixed vents, which impacts your ability to regulate temperature. That said, the MOD3 shares many of the remaining features of its pricier sibling, including a Boa system for dialing in fit, a magnetic buckle closure at the chin, and a removable liner and ear pads. To be sure, we like the upgrades that come with the MOD5, but the MOD3 is a viable alternative for those hoping to stay under $200.
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